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COAST Ridership, Demand for Services Up in 2023, Economic impact estimated at $26.4M

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The nonprofit Cooperative Alliance for Seacoast Transportation, more commonly known as COAST, recently released its 2023 Annual Impact Report. The report details increased demand and ridership across both their fixed route and demand response services in FY23. In addition, COAST’s direct, indirect, and induced effects on spending, as well as the economic impact of access provided by their services is estimated to have been over $26.4 million.

COAST connects people and communities in two primary ways: with fixed route buses that serve eight communities in the Greater Seacoast area; and by providing demand response and paratransit services to 13 communities in New Hampshire and Maine. COAST also operates TripLink, a regional transportation call center that takes trip requests on behalf of COAST, Community Action Partnership of Strafford County, Community Rides, Ready Rides, and Rockingham Nutrition & Meals on Wheels, and serves as a regional information and referral source for transportation services in southeastern NH.

“As housing prices on the Seacoast have continued to climb, the distance between economic opportunity and the communities where people can afford to live is increasing. COAST’s fixed route services play a critical role in connecting our Seacoast workforce and the businesses that employ them,” said Rad Nichols, COAST Executive Director.

Over the last fiscal year (October 2022 to September 2023) COAST reported 268,048 customer trips on their fixed route services to and from work, classes, medical services, shopping, and social activities (+10.6% over FY22), avoiding an estimated 1.96 million miles of car travel, and saving 755 tons (1.5 million lbs.) of greenhouse gases from being emitted into the atmosphere. These trips also represent an estimated savings of $467,000 in avoided gasoline and maintenance expenses for riders.

COAST’s demand response services saw similar gains in FY23. Older adults and individuals living with disabilities took 23,006 trips to work, classes, medical services, shopping, and social activities (+18.4% over FY22). These riders travelled an average of 7.1 miles, totaling 163,500 miles.

“Operating in the second oldest state in the U.S., COAST helps seniors to maintain their independence. By providing transportation options beyond driving, COAST keeps people connected to their communities and the services they rely on for support as they grow older,” noted Nichols.

TripLink new client registrations were up 26%, and the number of trips facilitated by the regional call center increased 25.7% to 38,520. Forty-nine percent of the TripLink-facilitated rides traverse multiple communities.

“COAST is an essential service provider and an important partner for social services agencies across the Seacoast,” said Jeff Donald, ACT Regional Mobility Manager. “By providing the transportation link between health, social, and other support services, COAST ensures that everyone can access the opportunities they need to succeed.”

COAST is in the planning stages for a new maintenance, operations, and administrative facility at their current location in Dover. The project, will be funded through a combination of funding from federal, state (including CDFA tax credits that are available to businesses who wish to support COAST in exchange for receiving a tax credit), local, and private sources. The City of Dover recently issued a site plan approval and conditional use permit for the project following a review by the Planning Board.

“We are proud of the accomplishments of 2023. However, COAST faces a challenging financial future as we seek to raise the remaining funds needed to construct our new facility while also replacing several federal grants that are coming to an end,” said Nichols. “In the coming year, we are optimistic that the communities COAST serves will recognize the important services we offer their residents by strengthening their financial support of our operations. We are also looking forward to growing our base of support among the business and philanthropic community.”

More information about COAST, its routes, and schedules can be found at coastbus.org.

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